Coalition to build Momentum, Power, Activism, Strategy & Solidarity (COMPASS) Africa

Using data for smarter advocacy and high-impact campaigns

Coalition to build Momentum, Power, Activism, Strategy & Solidarity (COMPASS) Africa is a global civil society coalition that uses innovative, data-driven advocacy campaigns to influence HIV policy decisions, programs and funding in Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe and at the global level. COMPASS Africa brings together organizations with varied, complementary skills and resources to develop shared approaches to defining and tackling subnational, national, regional and global barriers to effective, comprehensive national responses to HIV.


Since the advent of the HIV epidemic, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have played a critical role in addressing structural violence and barriers to accessing HIV treatment and prevention through advocacy, activism and serving as government watchdogs. Given their knowledge of the local context, local CSOs are well placed to point to and respond to the needs of their communities.

Their vibrant advocacy and activism have driven solutions to challenges by focusing on accountability—making sure that power, funds and policies work for people living with and at risk for HIV. As the HIV response has matured, data informed decision-making has become a primary driver for the programmatic response. Access to and analysis of the data behind these decisions has been limited for civil society activists and advocates; at the same time, in East and Southern African countries—as in other regions—civil society organizations have been enlisted as partners by the very funders and programs they must hold accountable, increasing the risks they face when they speak out as activists.

This, coupled with recent plateaus and declines in foreign aid budgets, have posed grave threats to the sustainability of CSO work. This is particularly true in environments with limited national political commitment, raising questions on how best global health donors can technically and financially equip civil society and advocates during this transition period.


COMPASS is a global civil society coalition that is changing the HIV response through high-impact advocacy campaigns led by civil society organizations representing communities most impacted by HIV.  COMPASS uses data-informed, transnational activism to increase civil society impact on HIV-related policies, budgets, programs, and participatory engagement approaches between governments, funders, implementers and people living with HIV and their allies. The project is anchored and led by civil society coalitions in Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, working in coalition with global and regional partners to gather, analyze, and use evidence and data to shape strategic activist and advocacy campaigns.

Within the Coalition, AVAC leads the COMPASS secretariat, providing coordination across partners, geographies, thematic areas and managing sub-grants to partners. In addition, AVAC advises on partner advocacy campaign strategies and tactics and contributes to monitoring and evaluation efforts (M&E) as a member of the COMPASS MERL (monitoring, evaluation, results and learning) team.

COMPASS works via four areas:

  • Building the strength and influence of Africa-focused civil society coalitions
  • Using data, information and analytics to advocate for comprehensive, effective treatment and primary prevention programs that lead to epidemic control
  • Defining priority issues and ambitious change agendas: differentiated service delivery, combination prevention, human resources for health, sexual and reproductive health and rights, key and vulnerable populations, and more
  • Strategic innovation: advancing ambitious advocacy agendas via “business unusual”


Work in Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe has strengthened coalitions fighting for data-informed policies and programs and deployed evidence and analyzed policy to influence decision-makers, resulting in stronger, better funded programs. COMPASS has and will continue to:

  • Improve development, adoption, implementation and evaluation of laws and policies supportive of comprehensive HIV responses that meet the needs of those at high risk of HIV infection or, if living with HIV, progressing to AIDS, including adolescent girls and young women, and key populations
  • Increased allocation and improved use of HIV-specific human, financial and technical resources from national governments, development partners like (PEPFAR and GFATM) and/or private sector to critical, effective programs and partners on the frontlines of the HIV response, with a focus on differentiated service delivery models for combined HIV prevention and treatment, achieved where possible through integrated programs
  • Improved country, regional and global responses to COVID-19 and health security to secure global equity and community-led action plans
  • A coalition that sets the standard for transnational coalition-based, Africa-led activism via African leadership, management and grantmaking

Be Sure to Read

Data Accessibility from Global Funders of HIV, TB and Malaria Programming

This report analyzes data availability across four of the key funders of global HIV, TB and malaria programming: The Global Fund, PEPFAR, PMI and USAID TB programming. It details which data are publicly available from each funder and which data are not. It focuses on the level of information available to grassroots advocates and communities to monitor and understand how donor-funded programs for HIV, TB and malaria are working in their own communities.

Activists on the Frontlines of the PEPFAR Planning Process

Every year, programs under the US Government’s President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) make plans, set targets and define approaches for more than 50 countries around the world. Read the dispatches below.


COMPASS is offering a learning course on analyzing and using data for advocacy. Contact us if you’d like to join at

They know we (civil society) are normally serious because when they give us a report, we analyze it, look at it, but we also relate with our international partners, Health GAP, amfAR, AVAC, and with that effective input, when we raise issues, they know we are serious and normally is written feedback. So, stakeholders like PEPFAR have taken us very seriously and our profile has increased.

David Kamkwamba
Malawi Civil Society Advocacy Forum (CSAF) Chair and Executive Director of COMPASS partner JONEHA